No hate. No violence
Races? Only one Human race
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
Radio Islam
Know Your enemy!
No time to waste. Act now!
Tomorrow it will be too late

English

Franç.

Deutsch

Arabic

Sven.

Español

Portug.

Italian

Russ.

Bulg.

Croat.

Czech

Dansk

Finn.

Magyar

Neder.

Norsk

Polski

Rom.

Serb.

Slov.

Indon.

Türk.

汉语
http://www.umassd.edu/specialprograms/mideastaffairs/usbroker.htm

U.S. Brokerage: From Madrid to Hebron

By Naseer Aruri

 

The period of U.S. Brokering in the Middle East between October 1991 and January 1997, begins and ends with two separate documents ostensibly offered as assurances by two secretaries of state-James Baker III and Warren Christopher. These documents had the effect of altering the very diplomatic landscape of the Palestine-Israel conflict by extracting unprecedented concessions from the Palestinian leadership while legitimizing Israeli rejectionism, which had been repudiated by the world community since the 1967 war. The United States, which has been associated with that rejectionism and which has managed to Marginalize all alternative peace proposals by various impartial bodies, has finally been able to assign itself as the catalyst in what has become known as the "peace process."

A body of United Nations resolutions, which constituted a legal international framework for the Palestine question, was arbitrarily supplanted by U.S. documents, in effect enacting a unilateral redefinition of Palestinian rights. Baker's 1991 "letter of assurances" to the Palestinians rendered the Israeli occupation a mere negotiable item instead of an illegal reality of a prolonged duration. Christopher's 1997 "letter of assurances" to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made the enforcement of UN Resolution 242 effectively dependent on Israel's security, as determined by Israel alone. Thus, the term "assurance" was an accurate description as it applied to Israel but, indeed, a misnomer as It applied to the Palestinian. Likewise, the phrase "peace process" has been used in such a way as to suggest that peace has some other hidden meaning.

Territorial conquest by force, which was defined as inadmissible In 1967 and remained as such throughout the 1980s, has thus been treated as permissible in the 1990s by the lone superpower, which seems to have easily usurped the role of the United Nations. The underlying assumption of the imposed legality is that the West Bank and Gaza virtually constitute an empty territory contested by two rivals. For their part, Palestinian leaders seem to acquiesce in the rewriting of international law, having decided to give the limited exercise of authority over a truncated and disjointed entity precedence over national rights. No longer deriving real legitimacy from their own people or from the global consensus on Palestinian rights, they have finally accepted the U.S., which has failed to deliver the peace it promised for more than two decades, as the sole peacemaker.

DANGEROUS ILLUSION

Since 1969, when Secretary of State William Rogers enunciated his plan based on the exchange of territory for peace, Arabs and Palestinians have had to contend with a dangerous illusion: that the United States was capable of delivering a fair, just, and durable peace in the region. Assuming the role of referee and principal conciliator, however, simultaneously with the role of Israel's chief diplomatic backer, bankroller and military supplier, the United States had placed itself at odds with the global consensus, which called for a political settlement with an international framework and sponsorship. As ally and protector of Israel, the U.S. was simply unable to credibly discharge its self-assigned mission as the catalyst for peace. This pattern is rooted in a special relationship, transformed into a strategic alliance during a period of three decades, which witnessed a convergence of U.S. strategic interests and Israeli territorial ambitions.

The Palestinians have been confronted with two protagonists intent on denying them a national existence and a sovereign order. This is not to imply that U.S. and Israeli policies have been consistently in tandem. U.S. policy throughout the post-Second World War period was preoccupied with regional stability in order to assure hegemony and facilitate unimpeded access to and control of petroleum resources.

Also at the heart of this policy was the containment of a host of domestic oppositional forces as well as the containment of external challengers of that hegemony, whose convenient address was "communism" or "Soviet aggression." That endeavor, which was classified in the category of "vital national interests,' converged with the Israeli interest of reducing the influence of Arab and Palestinian nationalists to manageable proportions The two interests also coincided to the extent that succeeding U.S. administrations viewed the disaffected Palestinians as a volatile anti-establishment group whose irredentist goals precluded any stakes in the existing regional order.

An impasse had developed, therefore, and persisted as long as the U.S. maintained its rejection of the global consensus: a settlement based on a two-state solution.

A "WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY" FOR THE U.S.

With the destruction of Iraq, followed by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a settlement based on U.S. designs had suddenly become possible and operational: Madrid was the venue. Although James Baker was the architect of the Madrid Conference in 1991, much of the construction work on the road to Madrid had already begun under Baker's predecessors. In fact, the Madrid framework represents a synthesis of previous U.S. diplomatic initiatives. The two-track approach. the self-rule concept, and transitional arrangements are derived from the Camp David Accords. The Jordanian dimension of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement is grounded in the Reagan Plan of 1982. The linguistic bait designed to attract the Palestinians was largely inherited from the Shultz Plan of 1988, which itself incorporated the salient features of Camp David and the Reagan Plan.

Former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George bush both declared the aftermaths of the Arab defeats in 1982 and in 1991 as an "opportunity." Baker's "opportunity" in 1991, however, proved to be more auspicious than Reagan's "opportunity" in 1982. The U.S. defeat of Iraq in 1991 was more decisive than the Israeli storming of Lebanon in 1982, and more damaging to the Palestinians: hence Baker's "opportunity," which produced Madrid. Although the Madrid formula was based on the principle of the exchange of territory for peace (in accordance with a speech by President Bush to the U.S. Congress on March 6, 1991), it was not made clear whether the exchange included the West Bank and Gaza and not only the Golan Heights of Syria. In fact, the Madrid formula, through the separate negotiating tracks for Israel and the Arab states, as well as through the interim arrangements for the West Bank and Gaza had effectively enabled Israel to defer West Bank sovereignty while it derived Arab state recognition and obtained a measure of normalization with the Arab world. In that sense, it was utilized by Israel as a cosmetic ploy to do no more than reorganize its illegal occupation.

THE ROAD TO MADRID

In light of the damage suffered by the Palestinians during the Gulf War, why did the U.S. bother to invest so much political capital in the Madrid Conference convened in September 1991? Why was a diplomatic reflection of the military victory so important for the consolidation of U.S. gains? What impact did Washington's pursuit of stability have on the "peace process," and how did that affect the future prospects for that process?

The Gulf War effectively demolished the official Arab consensus on Palestine, eroded Arab solidarity, and exposed regime insecurity in the Gulf/Peninsula region. The illusion of Arab defense and the higher Arab interest was eclipsed by the spectacle of kings, sheikhs, presidents ingratiating themselves with Washington, enabling the latter to deal with them bilaterally and on the basis of narrowly construed interests rather than as a solid bloc with a nationalist and Palestinian agenda.

The Arab world became more divided than at any time since the establishment of the Arab League Arab solidarity against Israel had broken down and an important source of pressure for Israeli concessions had thereby been eliminated. There was hardly any economic or diplomatic leverage for these countries, and, with the destruction of Iraq as a regional power, the military leverage was also eliminated for the foreseeable future.

These developments dismantled the joint Palestinian-Arab diplomatic strategy developed at the Rabat Summit in 1974, the pillars of which consisted of economic and diplomatic leverage. The outcome of the Gulf War had also consecrated U.S. diplomacy as the sole agent of an Arab-Israeli settlement and signaled a visible shift in decision making, a role which now seemed to be limited largely to the U.S. and Israel. Not only had Secretary of State lames baker succeeded in replacing the international conference with a symbolic regional parley whose main function was to legitimize the bilateral talks which Israel so much desired, he also had secured Soviet and Syrian acquiescence during eight shuttles to the region between March and September 1991. The Arab position, which was based on the necessity of an international conference, was gradually watered down with each shuttle.

The Arab concessions were incorporated into a letter of invitation signed by the United States and the Soviet Union on October 18, 1991. The letter effectively replaced the United Nations resolutions as a framework for settling the Arab conflict It was accompanied by a "letter of assurances" to the protagonists, which largely defined United States (not Soviet) understanding and intentions concerning the negotiations. The main principles in the letter of invitation are: ( I ) peace would be grounded in Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of land for peace: (2) the venue for the peace negotiations would be a regional conference that would lead, after four days, to direct bilateral negotiations: and (3) the negotiations would be conducted in phases.

The letter of assurances to the Palestinians reiterates these principles and adds a few specific points:

  1. The Israeli occupation would have to come to an end, but that could be accomplished only through negotiations that would be comprehensive and would proceed along both a Palestinian and an Arab track;

  2. The United Nations would be represented by a passive observer;

  3. The Palestinians could choose their own delegation, whose members would be residents from the Occupied Territories who agreed to the two-track concept and who were willing to live in peace with Israel. No party could be forced to sit with anyone; and

  4. Jerusalem would never again be divided. and its final status would be decided in negotiations.


The proximity of these parameters to Israel's conditions was not even subtle; it can be attributed to the extent to which Baker's eight shuttles during 991 incorporated the Israeli position. The self-proclaimed catalyst for peace had to conduct its brokering in Madrid and subsequently in Washington and Moscow largely in accordance with Israeli standards.

While moral and legal considerations were secondary to the strategic nature of Baker's diplomacy, the obvious lack of an attempt to give them minimal attention constituted a basic flaw in the initiative. The fundamental moral issue that Baker's diplomacy ignored is the wrong done to the Palestinians: dispossession, dispersion, disenfranchisement, subjugation. Also, the principal legal element which Baker’s approach neglected is the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War of 1949. Security Council Resolution 681 unanimously declared in 1991 that the Convention protects the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories from being coerced into illegal agreements. It guards against the renunciation of their rights under the Convention and restricts Israeli practices in the manner of a de facto sovereign Moreover, the interim period that precedes the final status negotiations can only be accepted after Israeli position regarding the occupation becomes legal.

These shortcomings of the Madrid framework and the deliberate ambiguity of Baker’s diplomacy removed the Palestine question from its context of national rights and practically divested it of its legal status under the Geneva Convention. Negotiating the end of occupation and terminating an illegal occupation are two entirely different things. baker's Madrid formula enhanced the long-standing Israeli position that Israeli security must determine the extent of withdrawal (watered down to "redeployment" in the Oslo process). It will be seen later how this position was finally incorporated in the Hebron Agreement in January 1997.

Moreover, these shortcomings prevented the parties from making the hind of progress needed to meet deadlines. Self-government for the Palestinians was scheduled for implementation one year from the Madrid Conference, in October 1992 This did not happen: Israel refused to come to terms with its status as occupier and to commit itself on the controversial issue of the colonial settlements.

THE ROAD TO OSLO

Not surprisingly, the Madrid process seemed to go nowhere after 11 rounds of talks in Washington, Rome, and Moscow, as Israel clung tenaciously to the policy of building settlements, thus forfeiting any kind of a contiguous territorial solution, and as the U.S. was determined not to offer any real and honest bridging proposals. The outcome of the Gulf crisis had so radically altered the balance of power in the region that it was nearly impossible for the Palestinians to achieve their minimal goals under U.S. diplomatic auspices. The United States has, after all, used its Security Council veto or abstained in the voting on nearly all of the 43 UN resolutions critical of the Israeli occupation since 1967.

The real challenge to Baker and Bush acting as a "catalyst for peace" was to bridge the gap between the Arabs and Israelis with definite proposals, a task which Israel considered taboo and Washington approached with extreme caution bordering on timidity; hence, a crippling impasse rendered the Washington diplomatic rounds an exercise in futility. That situation persisted until the deadlock was resolved at Oslo in September 1993

Meanwhile, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat's decision to give up on the Washington negotiations, where his delegation headed by Haidar Abde Shafi was steadfastly holding out against Israeli obstinance seems to have been influenced by a multiplicity of crises facing the PLO: crises of legitimacy, of leadership, of governance, and of finance. Moreover, a tangible shift in U.S. policy under Clinton had steered Arafat in the direction of Oslo. That shift was manifested in Warren Christopher's "Declaration of Principles" of June 30, 1993, which repudiated long-standing American policy by implying that the West Bank and Gaza were "disputed" rather than "occupied" territory. That document signaled Washington's willingness to deal with the gap between the protagonists-not to bridge it, but to fill it with things Israeli.

The prospects for a negotiated settlement based on the Madrid framework began to look more grim with the ascendancy of Bill Clinton to the presidency. And yet, despite the fact that Oslo was an Israeli affair, it served as the logical extension of Madrid and the culmination of America's foreign policy goals. For Yasser Arafat it began to look like his negotiators were likely to face not only a recalcitrant Israel, but a more Israelized American policy.

CLINTON FILLS THE GAP

The impasse, which was created by Israel's refusal to come to terms with its status as occupier and by U.S. unwillingness to give concrete meaning to its letter of assurances, was finally resolved at the expense of the Palestinians. Three elements in Christopher's "Declaration of Principles" of June 30, 1993 upheld the Israeli position. First, the implication that the West Bank and Gaza are disputed rather than occupied territory. Second, the conspicuous absence of any reference to the exchange of land for peace, or to Israeli withdrawal or even redeployment, implying that Israel has an equal right to lay claims to the land. Third, the U.S. declaration committed the Palestinians to agree beforehand that all matters relating to sovereignty are outside the scope of the negotiations for the interim phase; hence, discussion of Jerusalem still expanding settlements, and the land issue is to be deferred for several years. Also, because the issues of land and the nature of authority in that land are treated separately in the U.S. declaration, the focus of negotiations would be limited to authority over the people but not the territory. The people, therefore, are reduced to the status of inhabitants or a minority rather than a people with national rights. Incidentally, this is consistent with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's Doctrine ( 1977), which represented the view of revisionist Zionism that lay at the fringe of Israeli politics during its formative stage.

Such manifest departure in U.S. policy, which watered down even the Madrid framework and the context of the U.S. letter of assurances, is the real catalyst for the PLO- Israeli agreement, known as the Declaration of Principles (DOP) or Oslo 1, signed on September 13, 1993 at the White House. The persistent efforts exerted by succeeding administrations finally have come to a full fruition under President Clinton. But not until the Clinton administration put forth its peculiar formula for gap-bridging, did things begin to move away from dead center. That move, however, produced Oslo, which reconfirmed the occupation, yet reorganized it, repackaged it, and obtained Palestinian consent for it.

In the aftermath of the first Oslo agreement, and despite the signing of three more-the Cairo agreements (I, II, and III), "Early Empowerment," Oslo II, and the Hebron Agreement-there seems to be no sign whatsoever that the "peace process" is leading toward a meaningful autonomy, let alone statehood for the Palestinians. Not only does Israel stand firmly against any kind of parity for the Palestinians, but the Clinton administration is utterly unwilling to nudge Israel toward meeting its original Oslo commitments Feeling secure as the world's only superpower and with sole hegemony in the Middle East, the United States, under Clinton, continues to pursue "peace," but it will be a Pax Americana, Pax Israelica.

Unlike post-Cold War agreements, such as those in El Salvador, Cambodia, and Afghanistan, which were negotiated under UN auspices, and unlike the South African agreement. negotiated by the parties themselves as equal partners. this is thoroughly an American 'peace." The Middle East was reconfirmed as America's own turf in which there was a victor-America's surrogate and partner, promoted to strategic ally-and a vanquished, whose leadership agreed to give up the struggle for national rights and abide by the rules of the game.

FROM OSLO l TO OSLO lll

The fact that all of these agreements (nine in all) have existed since September 1993 demonstrates that Israel, no matter whether Labor or Likud was in power, has kept on reneging on its commitments to the original DOP Why else would there be Cairo l, ll, and lll; Oslo I and Oslo ll; and, very recently, in January Oslo lll?

Shortly, it will be argued that the so-called Hebron Agreement is less about Hebron and more about changing the DOP; the Hebron Agreement is indeed Oslo III. And just as the previous Oslos were facilitated by U.S. diplomacy, the most recent Oslo, alias Hebron Agreement, was also forged after decisive U.S. intervention, which included shuttles by Dennis Ross and an ultimatum by the outgoing Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Yasser Arafat, as well as the not-so-reassuring "letters of assurances" to Arafat and Netanyahu.

An important index of the extent of departure from the DOP that the most recent agreement represents is the prominence of the U.S. role in it. Just as the act of convincing Israel to attend the Madrid Conference (ironically, on largely Israeli terms) required a letter of assurances from James Baker, among other inducements, now Israel again requires another letter of assurances from Warren Christopher-in addition to "Notes for the Record" provided by Dennis Ross-in order to agree to implement existing provisions of Oslo II.

Before discussing the U.S. role in the Hebron Agreement, we need to take stock of the nature of the impasse which began since Oslo II, in September 1995. It will be recalled that the first Oslo agreement was also known as "Gaza First," implying that Israeli troop redeployment-not withdrawal-would begin in Gaza and extend to the West Bank at a later stage. Before that stage was implemented, however, the two panties had signed three Cairo agreements and the so-called "Early Empowerment." A major barrier to effecting implementation in the West Bank was the density of Israeli settlements there, in contrast to the Gaza Strip, where settlers did not exceed 4,000. The result was a stalemate, which was interrupted by a new, altered, and expanded version of the DOP known Interim Agreement, but nicknamed Oslo II. A major stumbling block in that stalemate was Israel's insistence that Articles V and VI of the DOP make a distinction between Gaza and Jericho on one hand, where there is a requirement to "withdraw" Israeli forces, and the West Bank on the other, where there is a requirement to only "redeploy" from certain areas and not from the entire West Bank. Israel's legal position is that the omission of the definite article "the," making the reference in the DOP to "West Bank instead of "the West Bank," was deliberate. The omission was clearly intended to leave open the possibility that there will be areas of the West Bank, in addition to those connected with the permanent status issues, which will not fall under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Council.

This was exactly the logic behind the division of the West Bank in the Interim Agreement of September 1995 (Oslo II) into Areas A, B, and C, Accordingly, only the cities in the West Bank experienced a transfer of civil authority, in which Arafat's police replaced Israeli troops and a Palestinian bureaucracy inherited the Israeli "Civil Administration." In these cities, where 26 percent of the population of the Occupied Territories lives, the Palestinian Council (i.e., the Palestinian Authority) has full responsibility for internal security, public order, and civil affairs. One exception was Hebron, the only Palestinian city having an Israeli settlement in the downtown area. Hebron's status was deferred along with that of 300 villages designated as Area B, and about 60 percent of the West Bank comprising public land, settlements, and Israeli army camps designated as Area C and placed under exclusive Israeli control.

In Area B, which comprises 70 percent of the population, the Council has responsibility for maintaining public order, while Israel retains overriding security responsibility to protect the settlements. In Area C, Israel retains full responsibility for public order, security, and civil affairs related to territory (planning, zoning, archeology, etc.). The Council, or the Palestinian Authority (PA), has civil responsibility with regard to other civil spheres.

This hierarchy of functions and responsibilities made it rather clear that the overly optimistic notion that what happened. In Gaza and Jericho in 1994 would be duplicated in the West Bank is totally without basis Unlike "withdrawal" from Gaza and Jericho the extent of Israeli redeployments in Areas B and C was left open- but the timing was defined-18 months after the convening of the Palestinian Council i.e., September 1997).

Meanwhile, redeployment from Area A, in accordance with Oslo II, was carried out in the winter of 1996, leaving Hebron intact. Now, after one full year, during which Israel failed to redeploy any troops from any section of Area B and from Hebron, while Area C remained under total Israeli control, an agreement has finally been reached. It is tantamount to an Oslo III, with yet new surprises for the trusting Palestinians, who seem to never get accustomed to Israel's Talmudic approach to negotiations.

WHY OSLO lll?

It will be recalled that former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres had used the spate of suicide bombings during the winter of 1996 as a pretext to delay the redeployment required by Oslo II. After that, Netanyahu began his rule in June 1996 with his widely known reservations about the whole "peace process," and a declared intent to renegotiate the agreement in line with his campaign slogan, "peace with security," a euphemism for sweeping annexation.

With the Hebron Agreement, signed on January 16, 1997, the die was cast. The pattern of this rather unique conflict resolution by increments had already been set. Each Increment must somehow be preceded by Israeli reminders of their version of the real meaning of the agreement, the legal nuances. absence of definite articles, significance of punctuation, and certain hidden but clearly implied meanings, etc.; while Arafat's negotiators protest in vain, citing the spirit but rarely the letter of these agreements. With Netanyahu in power, Israel's excessive legalism was supplemented by plain unadulterated stonewalling in pursuit of yet more Palestinian concessions equivalent to new negotiations. The nature of the DOP according to which Israel was not defined as an occupier and the Palestinians would have to negotiate their rights instead of claim their legally- established rights, has allowed Israel to decree the extent of its obligation and to determine the concrete application of the DOP which was drafted its own lawyer/diplomats. The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, was always in a quandary. Its dilemma stemmed from the same gap between its "legal'' commitment to a document prepared by Israel and not quite yet comprehended by its leadership, on the one hand; and a broader Palestinian attachment to a body of UN resolutions, which has been shunned by Israel and by current Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on the other. Israel's diplomacy was always determined by a road map based on its own understanding of the DOP and designed to correspond to its own vision of a final destination. The largely ad hoc PA diplomacy, on the other hand, was like that of a blind person in a chimney, torn between two mutually exclusive goals-a closely enforced legal obligation to the DOP and an entrenched desire to reach the mountaintop of sovereignty.

In these circumstances, with the U.S. having practically replaced the UN as arbiter (albeit, one who prefers to facilitate rather than arbitrate), setting the pace has remained an Israeli privilege. What is different, however, between the Hebron impasse, which effectively produced an Oslo III, and the previous impasse, which produced Oslo II, is that now the Likud government is clearly in violation not only of the spirit, but also of the letter of the DOP. Much of the recent impasse has been over Netanyahu refusal to establish a timetable for troop redeployment from rural areas of the West Bank. Under Oslo II itself a modification of the DOP (Oslo I) in Israel's favor-a three-stage redeployment was to have taken place between March 1996 and September 1997. When pressed for a deadline for completion of that reredeployment, Netanyahu offered the end of 1999. King Hussein of Jordan and Dennis Ross persuaded him to accept mid-1998, which would still give him an additional year over the agreed deadline. In that respect, the only concession that Netanyahu made was to scale down his unilaterally expanded demands, demands which already exceeded agreed arrangements. In return, Arafat agreed to a list of yet new concessions, some of which inflicted major damage to a position already battered by Oslo I and Oslo ll.

Netanyahu was quite correct when he made the claim to his Knesset on January 16 that the Hebron Agreement was a vast improvement over Oslo II. And so was his cabinet minister, Natan Sharansky the former Russian human rights activist turned settlers' rights advocate. And so was A.M. Rosenthal, the right-wing Zionist, whose Middle East columns in the New York Times generally attempt to out-Israel the Israelis. Sharansky and Rosenthal quite correctly observed in separate New York Times columns (January 17, 1997) that the Hebron Agreement represented a major triumph for Netanyahu. Coming from Rosenthal, that declaration is very significant, given his association with the position of the lunatic fringe in Israel, which invokes a peculiar version of biblical rights in Hebron and in the entire West Bank.

SECURITY AS A DETERMINANT OF REDEPLOYMENT

The single most dangerous aspect of the Hebron Agreement (virtually Oslo III) is Arafat's acquiescence in the U.S. decision to cede to Israel, now in writing, the right to determine the extent of territory and number of forces that would be affected by the required redeployment in Area B during the interim phase. The occasionally touted letter by his negotiator, Saeb Erakat, declaring that decision as non-binding for the Palestinians, has no legal standing given that the agreement is a package deal in fact, that letter was issued after the PA was alerted to this flaw by journalist Lamis Andoni. Moreover, the PA has not published the alleged letter, nor made it the issue that it might deserve to be. Accordingly, Israel is no longer committed to withdraw troops from occupied Arab territories within the mean of Resolution 242. Warren Christopher's letter of assurances to Netanyahu is truly a landmark in a rapidly changing U.S. policy under Clinton. The outgoing Secretary of State, who talked tough to Arafat (according to his own revelations in an interview published in USA TODAY on January 1997), threatening him to recall Dennis Ross unless he accepted the U.S. proposals, assured Netanyahu that Arafat had been advised of what U.S. policy really is.

This letter of assurance to Netanyahu has rendered Arafat little more than a U.S. vassal. Three separate sentences begin with "l have impressed upon Chairman Arafat," "I have stressed to him," and "I have advised Chairman Arafat." What Christopher impressed and stressed was summarized rather aptly again by a proud Sharansky in his January 17 column: "The nature of future deployment-three are due by mid-1998-is to be determined by the government of Israel, and will not be subject to negotiations with the Palestinians." If this does not sound like a diktat, what does?

No less proud of Netanyahu's achievement than Sharansky, A.M. Rosenthal chimed in with a reminder: Netanyahu could not have agreed to the mid-1998 deadline "unless it was made clear that Israel would designate 'military locations' it would not give up." This major gain for Israel is now codified in Christopher's letter of assurances: "I have advised Chairman Arafat of U.S. views on Israel's process of redeploying its forces, designating specific military locations..."

What are these views, we might ask, of which Arafat has been advised by Christopher prior to his signing the Hebron Agreement? These are spelled out in a crystal clear manner in a public document accessible from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. It is entitled, "FURTHER REDEPLOYMENT (FRD): THE NEXT STAGE OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN INTERIM AGREEMENT, LEGAL ASPECTS." dated January 19, 1997. The relevant portions read as follows:

... the further redeployment process will take place in territory of the West Bank (but not necessarily all the West Bank and that, in those areas in which it will take place, it will not include settlements, military locations, and borders, nor those areas required for the implementation by Israel of its overall responsibility for Israelis and borders. The extent and location of these areas is [sic] to be determined by Israel in the light of its security concerns.

The Israeli position and Christopher's acceptance of it were also confirmed in the same document:

The Interim Agreement [i.e., Oslo III provides that, in the further redeployment process (FRD), Israeli military forces will redeploy to "specified military locations." These locations are not defined in the agreement, but rather are to be defined by Israel... This understanding was confirmed by Warren Christopher... in his letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu... in which he wrote of Israel's process of redeploying its forces and designating specified military locations

In reality, both Netanyahu and Christopher are wrong in their interpretation of Israel's redeployment obligations under the terms of the interim Agreement (Oslo II). Article Xl, paragraph 2 (f) of that agreement states that the extent of redeployment Is to be discussed In the course of the final status negotiations:

The specified military locations referred to in Article X, paragraph 2 above will be determined In the further redeployment phase, within the specified time-frame ending not later than 18 months from the date of the inauguration of the Council, and will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations.

As if the carte blanche to annex occupied territories is not enough, Christopher made it clear that the criterion of redeployment (not withdrawal) will henceforth be governed not by Resolution 242 but by Israeli security, as defined by the Israeli government of the day. After repeating the ritual of the Ironclad commitment to Israel's security, and after reiterating the fact that such security is the cornerstone of the special relationship, Christopher writes:

Moreover, a hallmark of U.S. policy remains our commitment to work cooperatively to seek to meet the security needs that Israel identifies (emphasis added).

 

The key word is, of course, "identifies." The Clinton administration has effectively enunciated a new policy, which considers Israel's territorial needs and security requirements as intertwined, and their relationship as determined by Israel. Christopher has thus endowed Israel with the express power to redeploy in accordance with its security requirements as it "identifies" them itself during the interim phase, rather than with its DOP obligation, let alone UN resolutions. As if that were not enough pampering for Israel, he went further to bestow the same powers during the final status phase when borders will be in question:

I would like to reiterate our position that Israel is entitled to secure and definable borders, which should be directly negotiated and agreed with its neighbors.

RECIPROCITY AS A DETERMINANT OF REDEPLOYMENT

The second major gain for Israel in Oslo lll is what the U.S. "Note for the Record" refers to as "reciprocity," a term introduced to the lexicon of Mideast diplomacy by Netanyahu Since he assumed power in June 1996, Netanyahu has accused Arafat of having failed to live up to his commitments and has used his allegation to justify his refusal to implement the terms of previous agreements. Now, he has succeeded in selling his ploy to Washington making "reciprocity" a condition for future implementation. No wonder both Sharansky and Rosenthal called the reciprocity clause in the Hebron Agreement Netanyahu's biggest gain.

The January 19 Israeli document cites the DOP and Oslo ll on the contingency of further redeployment on the "assumption of responsibility for public order and internal security by the Palestinian police." The reciprocity obligations is described as follows:

The further redeployments are expressly stated to be a mutual obligation: only if the Palestinian side proves itself capable and willing to comply with its security responsibilities is Israel obliged to transfer additional areas of the West bank to Palestinian jurisdiction.

There can be no doubt, of course, about who would be authorized to determine compliance. Whatever Netanyahu pledged to do will in the final analysis be contingent on Arafat's fulfillment of new and old conditions that could render Palestinian expectations, once more, superfluous. Who, other than Israel, is to say whether Arafat lived up to his commitments? And who would referee the inevitable differences between Arafat and Israel other than the so-called honest broker in Washington, who has virtually subcontracted that role to Israel anyway?

Moreover, the reciprocity clause in the latest agreement has a brand new list of "Palestinian Responsibilities" that would have to be met before Israel can be expected to fulfill its open-ended obligations. There are four: the Palestinian National Covenant would have to be disavowed; all resistance activities ranging from terror to political commentary (euphemistically described as "incitement and hostile propaganda" ) must be stopped, and suspects must be apprehended, prosecuted, or transferred to Israel; the size of the Palestinian police must be trimmed. The fourth responsibility is most interesting: without any mention of Jerusalem or Orient House, the latter would have to cease to function as a quasi-foreign office for the PA, thus giving Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert, the Likudist mayor of Jerusalem what they insisted upon. The relevant clause reads as follows:

Exercise of Palestinian governmental activities and location of Palestinian governmental of offices will be as specified in the interim agreement.

Obviously, the kind of reciprocity which Netanyahu invented and Dennis Ross adopted and marketed does not apply in Jerusalem. The PA is enjoined from setting up a few institutions in Jerusalem during the interim phase, but Israel can change the geographic and demographic character of the city and its environs with impunity, as if that will have no bearing whatsoever on the final status negotiations. In fact, after the Hebron signing and on the eve of Netanyahu's February 1997 visit to Washington, the prime minister told a right wing coalition of Knesset members the following:

Israel is acting as the sovereign authority in Jerusalem and according to its understanding, and does not require the permission of any outside body for construction, development, and road paving there; and there is no link or connection to any negotiations on other issues.

He also announced to them that he made it clear to Arafat if the PA of offices in Jerusalem are not closed, Israel will close them.

The grotesque asymmetry of the Hebron Agreement is also illustrated in the list of "Israeli Responsibilities" as expressed in Ross's "Note for the Record." Unlike the Palestinian responsibilities which are described in categorical language (fight terror, prevent incitement apprehend prosecute, transfer, etc.), Israel's responsibilities consist of agreeing to deal with such outstanding issues as prisoner release Israel is not asked to release prisoners, to ensure safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, to allow the construction of a Gaza port and airport; but merely to resume negotiations of these issues.

All of this amounts to a third major revision of an agreement which was billed as the century's main achievement in Middle East diplomacy. The changes insisted upon by Israeli leaders of the Labor and Likud factions could not have been reached without determined support by the United States. So, looking at the theme of this symposium-is the United States an honest broker?I would have to conclude that the U.S. has indeed been a broker: Israel's earnest broker. Its brokering has been of a unique type no amount of capital is ever required; gains are guaranteed under all circumstances; rules are altered to accommodate the investor's whims; and the accepted norms and standards are set aside at the pleasure of both broker and investor.

These are Israel's fortunes in the shadow of Bill Clinton, who relieved Israel of the constraint of UN resolutions after incoming Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared them "obsolete, irrelevant, and contentious." Thanks to the outgoing Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, Israel was also rid, once and for all, of Security Council Resolution 242, which even the U.S., until not too long ago, considered as the cornerstone of a negotiated settlement. With the latest agreement, Israel has a carte blanche from the world's only superpower to align the requirements of peace with the requirements of its own security as it chooses to define them, while guaranteed a margin of technological and military superiority perpetually over all the Arab states combined. That pledge, which was made by former U.S. President Richard Nixon during the heat of his presidential campaign, was not only kept by all his successors, but was also improved upon and even raised to disproportionately high dimensions by Bill Clinton.



Naseer Aruri is Chancellor Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine.


 


"When a Jew, in America or in South Africa, talks to his Jewish companions about 'our' government, he means the government of Israel."

- David Ben-Gurion, Israeli Prime Minister


Palestine banner
Viva Palestina!

Latest Additions - in English

What is this Jewish carnage really about? - The background to atrocities

Videos on Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam and Blacks and Jews 

How Jewish Films and Television Promotes bias Against Muslims

Judaism is Nobody's Friend
Judaism is the Jews' strategy to dominate non-Jews.

Islam and Revolution
By Ahmed Rami

Jewish Manipulation of World Leaders - Photos

Elie Wiesel - A Prominent False Witness
By Robert Faurisson

The Gaza atrocity 2008-2009


Iraq under Jewish occupation
Iraq - war and occupation


Jewish War against Lebanon!

Jew Goldstone appointed by UN to investigate War Crimes in Gaza

Hasbara - The Jewish manual for media deceptions

Britain under Jewish occupation!


Jewish World Power
West Europe    East Europe
Americas          Asia
Middle East       Africa
      U.N.              E.U.

 

The Internet and Israeli-Jewish infiltration/manipulations

Books - Important collection of titles

The Power of Jews in France

The Israel Lobby - From the book

Jews and Crime  - The archive!

When Jews rule...
The best book on Jewish Power


Sayanim - Israel's and Mossad's Jewish helpers abroad

Listen to Louis Farrakhan's Speech - A must hear!

The Israeli Nuclear Threat

The "Six Million" Myth

Jewish "Religion" - What is it?

Medias in the hands of racists

Strauss-Kahn - IMF chief and member of Israel lobby group

Down with Zio-Apartheid
StopJewish Apartheid!

The Jews behind Islamophobia

Israel controls U.S. Presidents
Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton...

The Victories of Revisionism
By Professor Robert Faurisson

The Jewish hand behind Internet The Jews behind Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, MySpace, eBay...

"Jews, who want to be decent human beings, have to renounce being Jewish"

Jewish War Against Iran

Al Jazeera English under Jewish infiltration

The Founding Myths of Modern Israel
Garaudy's "Founding myths"


Jewish hate against Christians
By Prof. Israel Shahak

Introduction to Revisionist
Thought
- By Ernst Zündel

Karl Marx: The Jewish Question

Reel Bad Arabs - Revealing the racist Jewish Hollywood propaganda

"Anti-Semitism" - What is it?

Videos - Important collection 

The Jews Banished 47 Times in 1000 Years - Why?

Nation of Islam and The Synagogue of Satan - Videos

The International Jew - By Henry Ford

Pravda interviews Ahmed Rami

The Founding Myths of Modern Israel
Shahak's "Jewish History"


The Jewish plan to destroy the Arab countries - From the World
Zionist Organization

Judaism and Zionism inseparable

"Jewish History" - a bookreview

Revealing photos of the Jews 

Racist Jewish Fundamentalism

"Jews" from Khazaria stealing the land of Palestine

The U.S. cost of supporting Israel

Turkey, Ataturk and the Jews

Talmud unmasked
The truth about the Talmud


Israel and the Ongoing Holocaust in Congo

Jews DO control the media - a Jew brags! - Revealing Jewish article

Abbas - The Traitor

Protocols of Zion - The whole book!

Quotes - On Jewish Power / Zionism

Caricatures / Cartoons 

Activism! - Join the Fight!